Brooklyn Bridge Park Secures $66.5M From NYC, Plus A $40M Rec Facility Donation

At last, some positively spectacular news about the progress of Brooklyn Bridge Park. First, Park President Regina Myer announced Thursday that Joshua Rechnitz, Founder & Chairman of the non-profit New York City Fieldhouse, has offered $40 million for the design & construction of a year-round, multi-use recreation facility near Pier 5. This represents one of the largest donations ever made to a New York City park. The center will be vetted through community dialogue before being built.

Second, State Senator Daniel Squadron says the BBP Board has secured the $66.5 million commitment funding from New York City that was promised via Squadron’s and Assemblymember Millman’s agreement with the city last summer. The Senator notes, “The funding means real progress on the path to complete Brooklyn Bridge Park and is great news for all of us who have been fighting to make a real world-class park a reality.”

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  • EHinBH

    So the Park is basically turning into a giant Chelsea Piers? Why are we having one large recc center Near 5 and then also have Pier 2 dedicated to sports fields. All this does is attract buses and crowds for games. I fought for a PARK – not a sports arena.

  • epc

    He who pays for the park gets to decide what goes into the park.

    When Brooklyn Heights & DUMBO champion to increase their own taxes to fund the park, then residents can claim more authority over the park.

    If anyone in the Heights would like to cut a $50MM check to (try to) prevent the fieldhouse from being built, go right ahead.

  • stuart

    That is great news for the park. Congratulations!
    I hope this means that they can start to repair the cracks on the Empire Stores. They should not put off emergency repairs any longer regardless of when the next RFP will be released.
    If there is a collapse on their watch, it will be awful reflection on the BBPC.

  • Luke C

    A Chelsea-Piers facility is exactly what I would like to see at BBP and all the better by the same company that developed and maintains one already so that they have experience and resources to make it an enduring facility.

  • zburch

    For reals EPC> We need more recreation in the nabe. I would love to have some indoor tennis courts. And of course a pool would be super duper.

  • resident

    EHinBH demonstrates that this park just can’t make everyone happy. Some wanted more recreation space, some wanted less. Some wanted just open green space. (!!!) I love the park and the future design. I think it strikes the right balance between the recreation/relaxation aspects. I also don’t think this addition is anything but great news. According to the daily news, it looks like the fieldhouse will be built where they were just planning on leaving in place an abandoned warehouse. More public resources, no loss of parkland. Win, win!!

  • Heightser

    Anyone know what the deal is with the pool? Is it coming this summer?

  • Gatornyc

    Heightser, the pool will be open in July on the uplands of Pier 2:

  • lori

    From the above link: “The Pop Up Pool at Pier 2

    This summer, take a dip at Brooklyn Bridge Park! Children and their families will enjoy a beautiful new pool situated off the greenway on the uplands of Pier 2.” Does this mean it is a children’s pool and only children and their families can take advantage of it?

  • Jorale-man

    I have mixed feelings about the $40M for the sports facility. If you look at the original plans for BBP, the topography in that area is clearly planned as open green space. In essence, this donor wanted an indoor sports facility, and as EPC says, money talks. We’re getting less greenery now and a sports facility.

    On the same token, a donation like that can be a signal to other rich people that the park is worth their investment. Hopefully others will give towards finishing the piers now, which is where the main event lies.

  • gatornyc

    Jorale-man, the Fieldhouse will be built in the same footprint of an existing one-story building that is currently being used to house construction equipments and sheds. Little to no green space will be lost by the construction of the Fieldhouse.

    Why can’t we celebrate this amazing Park for what it is: the rare acievement that actually brings much of what everyone wants. BBP isn’t one type of park catering to the likes and dislikes of one segment. Green space, direct access to the water, active recreation options, etc., and now a year-round indoor recreational/community center.

  • Nabeguy

    Glad I moved. Your Heights now, not mine. Enjoy your loss of solitude, and everything that comes with it.

  • Bette

    Tennis courts please!!

  • Anon

    Why r u giving Squadron any credit here, citing his press release? That jerk did nothing for the park except reduce the space for park and give developers more condos!

  • WillowSt.Neighbor

    I totally agree with you. We will also be moving on early next year due to retirement. Maybe I will be able to wake up to the sounds of birds chirping again.
    I hope you are enjoying Long Island. I do miss Jones Beach though. We loved going there in the Spring and Fall just to walk on the boardwalk.
    I must be getting old!

  • bornhere

    I wonder if anyone who has lived here for 30 or more years is happy about any of the changes that have occurred in the Heights over the past few decades. Nabeguy’s post reflects my own thoughts, in a way, of how the Heights has become someone else’s neighborhood; I know people ridicule the feelings of many of us who have been here forever, but I have to agree that, for the past 20+ years, the deliberate changes that so many applaud have, I think, contributed to irreparably diminishing what was once something incredibly special. And say what you will, there was something comforting about living in a place in which some areas were untouched or allowed to age and just reflect their history. The entire BB park thing doesn’t do it for me — I even preferred Furman and Old Fulton when it was little more than a tiny museum with a huge sense of “connection” to the past. Gone are the days, I guess, when not every place had to be a “place.”
    And, Nabe, although I understand your reasons, I am sorry you left … “home.”

  • Slide

    Sometimes we look at the past with rose colored glasses. I am one of those new residents that would prefer a nice recreational area on the waterfront as opposed to the rusting piers and graffiti covered abandoned buildings that currently occup the space now. Silly me.

    But what was Brooklyn Heights before all of these new fangeled changes? From the New York Times.

    “It didn’t happen overnight. The Hotel St. George complex, which at its height dominated the square block between Henry and Hicks Streets and Clark and Pineapple Streets, was originally renowned for its grand ballrooms and a huge salt-water swimming pool. By the 1970s it housed a topless bar called Wild Fyre, and its elderly residents were preyed on by muggers.

    “The crime was pretty bad back then,” Mr. Schmitt recalled. “For a long time it was kind of dicey walking around anywhere at night. Now you feel absolutely safe, but before the late ’80s you looked over your shoulder coming home from the subway”

    Ahhhh…. The good old days.

  • Slide

    More about the ” good ole days” when Brookly Heights wasn’t “someone else’s neighborhood:

    “In 1993, there were eleven murders.  A mere four years later, that figure dropped to just one.  The number of rapes that occurred in 1993 was 22 whereas in 1997, there were only 14.  That number continued to go down and in 2003, there were only five rapes, bringing down the rate 77.2% over ten years.  The grand larceny of automobiles in 1993 was at a whopping rate of 733, while data shows that in 1997 there were 277 occurrences of the same incident.  Only six years later, however, the rate dropped down to 89 automobile larcenies a year, bringing the overall rate down 87.8% over 10 years.  The crime total in 1993, which includes murder, rape, robbery, felonious assault, burglary, grand larceny, and grand larceny auto, was 4,468.  That same figure ten years later was 1,297: a remarkable 71% decrease.”

    Yep, BH just ain’t what it used to be.

  • BH’er

    i havent read the details for the field house facility, but whatever is built must first serve the local residents before serving other groups

    we could use some better access to the parkland, more green space, and more rec facilities – olympic pool, tennis, squash courts, etc.

    i am more in favor of the asphalt green model than chelsea piers – they have a better community focus, although both are great resources for the city and should be welcome in this space!

  • bornhere

    Slide — The crime issue always comes up as the default “so the good old days were great, huh?” argument. All I can say is that I don’t think the Heights feels safer now than it did years ago. But that’s just me.
    And you do understand, I am sure, that those statistics are for the 84, and that the 84 encompasses much more than just Brooklyn Heights.

  • Slide

    I guess one’s perception of crime has to do with one’s own personal experience so I am glad you have always felt safe, but statistics are statistics. Even if the 84th stats cover a larger area it must still contribute to the quality of life in BH right? But if we want to stick to BH alone lets not forget that there was a topless bar in the St. George Hotel and, “In the 1970s and ’80s, Mr. Schmitt recalled, muggers attacked gay prostitutes who met clients every night at the corner of Middagh and Columbia Heights.”

    That suggests to me that perhaps time has put a rosy glow in your remembrances of BH. To an objective person however the changes can only be viewed as positive despite your belief to contrary.

  • Nabeguy

    Slide, a fine forensic analysis of the history of crime in the Heights. And a “rosy” one at that, give how the numbers drop off. But it’s simply a snapshot of one neighborhood in a city where crime stats have gone down by equal measure. Yes, there was a topless bar on Clark Street and a porn theater on Court Street…in the 70’s. By comparison to what was going on in Manhattan during the same period, they were almost quaint by comparison. I’ve seen that interview with Jim Schmitt that you reference, and he was completely off the mark. Indeed, in the 70’s, there was a large gay presence in the Heights, but there were no prostitutes on Middagh and Columbia Heights (I happened to have lived there). There was a lot of cruising going on in the north end of the Promenade and the fruit streets (no pun intended) , but the “muggers” he refers to were neighborhood kids earning their macho points by bashing gays…these were kids I knew, so I know it as fact. In any case, if your take-away from the statistics is that the park will reduce crime even further, I hope you’re correct, but history tends to support the argument that crime follows crowds.

  • Slide

    I was not suggesting that the park would reduce crime just refuting bornhere’s comment, “I wonder if anyone who has lived here for 30 or more years is happy about any of the changes that have occurred in the Heights over the past few decades.

    With the topless bars, porn houses, prostitution, sex cruising, gay bashing teens and an exponentially higher crime rate of yesteryear, I would think most rational people would be happy with the changes over the past few decades. Is a topless bar and “cruising” preferable to recreation facilities on the currently unused waterfront?

  • Slide

    Thanks for making my point nabeguys, I prefer the present day BH to the one you describe especially the neighborhood youths that you say you knew that went around “bashing” gays to earn their macho points. Shame we lost that charming feature of the BH of yesteryear.

  • Still Here

    Interesting thread.

    I have been here not quite 30 yrs. I would prefer an active commercial water front, and second to that letting the piers just rotting away and a green path along the upland. Not to be. However, after being confronted in the late 1980’s with either tall dormitories for the Witnesses, complete commercial/big box (or any as of right commercial development), or a 100% residential development, the offer of the Port Authority to turn it over to the community for a park(if they could muster it, and they did) was the only alternative. And yes, it changes more than just the waterfront.

    On the other hand, that a private interest wants to fund a bicycle veladrome attracting 2500 people and the attendant car traffic, with limited alternative uses is a poor use of the park. Those that want an indoor activity center would get little out of this.

  • Pat R. Ician

    Hear hear to Still Here and EH in BH! Classy condos, cool hotel, yacht basin, world class landscaping — OK, but a velodrome in front of my home– NO WAY! Who cares about recreation anyway? Why can’t the bikes and kids be moved to Atlantic Avenue or north of DUMBO just like we did with the housing?

  • michael

    even if there were gay prostitutes on columbia hts back in the 70s & early 80s they wouldn’t hold a candle to those straight prostitutes like squandron & millman who sold all of us into a weak position.